Matthijs Valstar Wins the Bolk Prize!


Former Ph.D. candidate Matthijs Valstar has been awarded the prestigious Bolk Prize at the Congress of the Dutch Anatomists Association. This recognition came following his presentation of his doctoral research titled ‘The Tubarial Glands: A Potential New Organ at Risk for Radiotherapy’. Valstar shared insights into how researchers from the University Medical Center Groningen and the AVL Hospital inadvertently discovered a region around the Eustachian tube, lighting up on PET-CT scans, located at the back of the throat. This finding led to the suspicion that the tissue might be an undiscovered salivary gland.

In collaboration with Dr. Bernadette de Bakker and medical anatomist Kees de Jong from Amsterdam UMC, subsequent studies on cadaver material and 3D reconstructions confirmed the existence of a significant glandular package around the Eustachian tube. The research group has named this gland the Tubarial gland.

Find the original article on the discovery of the Tubarial glands here.

A second paper on the immunohistological profiling of the tubarial glands can be found here.

Dr. Valstar’s discovery has sparked a media frenzy internationally and has since led to various scientific articles that further specify the tubarial gland region. However, the most crucial outcome is the potential impact on radiation treatments for cancer patients. With the discovery of this gland, there is now a greater emphasis on preserving it during radiation therapy to mitigate the adverse side effect of xerostomia, or dry mouth.

Congratulations to Matthijs and the research team on winning the Bolk Prize and for this groundbreaking discovery!

And thanks to the Dutch Anatomists Association, with in particular the Bolk jury led by dr. Janniko Georgiadis, for the honour of receiving the award for our research.